Does a good anime need to have a good plot? The answer is: NO! Take a certain over-the-top mecha-robo anime with plenty of drills (and thus male Freudian artifacts) for example; it's plot wasn't the most original storytelling, but that didn't stop the anime from being explosively entertaining.
But does good anime need to have ANY plot? The answer is undoubtedly: NO. If otherwise, the slice-of-life genre of anime wouldn't exist; and hits like K-On, Lucky Star, and Hidamari Sketch would never have gained the popularity that they did.
So is A-channel like Lucky Star, K-On, or Hidamari Sketch? The answer is still: NO. The latter three anime, although plotless, have some extra premise or setting in which the contents of the anime revolve around; K-On has the pretense of forming a band, Hidamari Sketch has the setting of an art school, and Lucky Star has an otaku as the lead. A-Channel, on the other hand, has nothing.
But is that a bad thing? NO! That just means that A-Channel is a slice-of-life in its PUREST form.
A-Channel portrays the easy life of four ordinary high school girls. The main focus if this anime is undoubtedly the characters and their interactions with each other. The biggest concerns or conflicts that the characters have are simple things like their weight, jealousy over different body proportions, or being over-protective of each other. The characters do ordinary things together like going to festivals, walking home in the rain, eating at fast food restaurants, singing karaoke, or playing in the snow together. There is no storyline at all, major, minor, or subplot; all A-Channel portrays are the sweetest moments amongst the smallest actions found in daily life. It's like someone cut out the most boring 23 hours and 40 minutes of the characters' days and turned the most lively 20 minutes of each day into a show.
The characters are what drive this show; they are indeed a good group to be friends with, being diverse and varied and yet not straying too far from the norm. We have Tooru, the clever troublemaker, Nagi, the ordinary one, Yuuko, the nice-bodied scaredy-cat, and Run, the airhead of airheads. Taken individually, these character may not seem like the most interesting ensemble. But when put together, it their interactions that make this anime shine. Character development doesn't come from the growth of the characters themselves, but rather that the viewer learns more about the characters as he or she continues to watch them, just like in real friendships. The diversity and depth of the interactions are astounding, and often it's the littlest of interactions that can send the viewer the biggest signals. (i.e. Yuuko showing slight interest in the idea of Run not wearing any panties.)
Being a slice-of-life, the production value of the show need not be very high. Most slice-of-lifes can get away with mediocre animation with a lot of still shots and mediocre sound with just an opening, ending, and a handful of background tracks. A-channel does exactly that. The animation is fine; the four girls look satisfactorily cute from most angles and distances, and the sound is alright, with an upbeat opening, a winding-down ending, and BGM that doesn't find itself to be to obtrusive to the ears. There is one praiseworthy aspect of the production, and it's the number of insert songs sung by the seiyuu. Often times, when wanting to show a collections of events, the producers would display a montage of clips accompanied by an insert song often times sung by the seiyuus themselves. This technique was most apparent during the karaoke episode, and I thought it was a nice way of letting the episodes flow rather than trying to directly tell the story. Voice-action, however, is a totally different story; this is the area where slice-of-lifes absolutely cannot skimp, and A-channel here delivers what it must. Each of the seiyuus for each of the character does a splendid job of delivering the right performance at each given situation.
So is A-channel something you should watch? Well it really depends. If you want something action, drama, romance, story, plot-twists, thrills, chills, or the like, then look elsewhere. But if you're into cute girls doing cute things from day in to day out, a light hearted slice-of-life comedy for a few laughs, I suggest you give A-channel a try.
Questions, comments, criticisms and compliments are welcomed whether you found this review helpful or not.